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Investiture debate for Jordi Sànchez set for Friday

Parliament speaker calls on Spanish Supreme Court to guarantee rights of jailed candidate

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09 April 2018 01:37 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

The  parliament speaker Roger Torrent has called for the investiture debate to swear in the jailed presidential candidate Jordi Sànchez to take place on Friday at 10 in the morning. He also called on the Spanish  Supreme Court to guarantee Sànchez’s rights, bearing in mind a recent statement made by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights.

In March, the UN committee in Switzerland has urged the Spanish authorities to take “all necessary measures to ensure” that the jailed Catalan MP Jordi Sànchez “can exercise his political rights” in accordance with article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Torrent warned that if Spain’s supreme court does not comply with the UN decision, it would cause "irreparable damage to the political rights" of Sánchez, and Spain would be "failing" their international obligations.

"A waste of time"

The Catalan Socialists' secretary of organization, Salvador Illa, has said that attempting to swear in Sànchez as president is a "waste of time." Illa considers that, because of Sànchez's legal situation, "he is not in a position" to take up the post.

For her part, the leader of Ciutadans, Inés Arrimadas, has said that it is "a lie" that there is a UN resolution allowing Sànchez to be present at the investiture debate. "Nothing that they say about the supposed UN resolution is true," she said in Madrid, after the announcement of the session was made by Torrent.

Behind bars

Sànchez entered prison almost six months ago. He faces criminal charges of rebellion, carrying prison sentences of up to 30 years, for his role in Catalonia's push for independence as a civil society leader.

Sànchez, the former president of the grassroots Catalan National Assembly (ANC) organization, was elected as an MP in an election last December. He is a member of Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), the party of the deposed president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.

Torrent completed a round of talks with all parties on Friday April 6. Sànchez was the candidate with the most support, as the two largest pro-independence groups in the chamber, JxCat and Esquerra Republicana (ERC), backed his candidacy.

To be invested in the first ballot, Sánchez would need the support of the absolute majority of the Parliament plenary, that is, of 68 MPs. If he does not pass this first vote, the candidate can submit to a second ballot in which a simple majority would be enough.  

Two times a candidate

This is not the first time Sànchez has been presidential candidate. Last time he was, however, the Spanish judge Pablo Llarena did not allow him to leave prison in order to attend the swearing in debate, which had been scheduled for March 12. 

A few days later, the United Nations responded to a lawsuit filed by the defense of Sánchez with regard to his political rights. It is this resolution that Torrent sent on Monday to the Spanish Supreme Court.

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  • Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent during the plenary on April 5 2018 (by Bernat Vilaró)

  • Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent during the plenary on April 5 2018 (by Bernat Vilaró)